Talk Matters: Civic Oration Yesterday and Today

FRI, APR 22, 2016 (37:38)

For 2,500 years, from the Greek agoras to today’s TED Talks, civic society has relied on public oration as a way to discuss and debate social and political issues. However, the prevalence of mass media in the 21st century has nearly obliterated the live and impassioned public speech that marked historical activism – including public responses to the Boston Massacre, and the “Meetings of the Body of the People” that led to the Boston Tea Party. So what has taken its place? Boston College professor Celeste Wells and spoken word poet Danny DeLeon discuss the history of civic oration and today’s different but equally powerful citizen orators.

+ BIO: Celeste Wells

Celeste Wells, Ph.D., is a professor in Boston College’s Communication department. She joined the Communication department in 2010 after earning her doctorate from the University of Utah. Dr. Wells’ research emphasizes the study of worker identity, immigration, nation, race, and gender. She has presented her research on issues of race and nationality within spheres of rhetoric and organizational communication. In her teaching, Dr. Wells aims to help develop students’ love of learning so that it extends beyond their undergraduate experience, and at Boston College her courses include The Rhetorical Tradition, Communication Criticism, and Argumentation Theory.

+ BIO: Danny DeLeon

Danny DeLeon is a spoken word poet, performer, and co-founder of Boston College’s first and only performance poetry club, Soul Love And Meaning! He graduated from Boston College in 2015. DeLeon collaborated with Dr. Celeste Wells on an article, “Slam and the citizen orator: Teaching ancient rhetoric and civic engagement through spoken word” (2015), published in the journal _Communication Teacher_ and adapted for the October 2015 issue of _Communication Currents_.

Old South Meeting House